Supporting people nearing the end of their lives

Department for Work and Pensions written statement – made on 29 March 2023.

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Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

The Government is committed to providing support to people who are nearing the end of their lives. For people in this position, 'Special Rules’ allow simple and fast access to financial support through the benefits system.

Today, I am pleased to announce the commencement of the Social Security (Special Rules for End of Life) Act 2022, which will apply from 3rd April 2023.

The Act enables more people nearing the end of their lives to get fast-tracked access via the special rules. It applies to three, key disability benefits: Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Attendance Allowance (AA).

This change means that people nearing the end of their lives who meet the eligibility criteria for one of these benefits, can receive vital support in their final year, six months earlier than they can currently. Those eligible under the ‘Special Rules’, get their claims fast-tracked, which means they do not have to wait as long to start getting payments. They are not required to take part in a medical assessment and, in most cases, those claiming will qualify for the highest rate of benefit.

The new 12 month ‘Special Rules’ criteria aligns with the end of life approach in the NHS where, for those with 12-months or less to live, clinicians are encouraged to think about what help their patient may need, including financial help.

The Government introduced similar changes to Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance on 4th April 2022. The Act ensures a consistent approach across five key health and disability benefits.

These changes to the Special Rules for End of Life are a culmination of many years of work since the then Secretary of State launched an in-depth evaluation of how the benefits system supports people nearing the end of their lives in 2019. I would like to pay tribute to her and my predecessors in my role, the Hon Member for North Swindon (Justin Tomlinson) and Rt Hon Member for Norwich North (Chloe Smith).

I would also like to thank the many people nearing the end of life, groups and charities that have supported the Department for Work and Pensions. Their input has helped improve the support provided by the benefits system in this area.

I am proud to say that when someone is in their last year of life, they can now benefit from improved support from the benefits system. By expanding eligibility, we will provide thousands more people with financial support to allow them to focus on sharing the valuable time they have left with the people who matter most to them.